Facility Site ID: 2899 Cleanup Site ID: 219

Current Status

Whatcom Waterway cleanup site map (click to enlarge)
Whatcom Waterway cleanup site map (click to enlarge)

Last Updated: August 2020

New fieldwork begins in Phase 2 Areas

Beginning now through late September, contractors will test in-water sediment and survey existing structures and the sea floor in certain areas of the Whatcom Waterway site.  

Whatcom Waterway
Blog Post
For more details, visit Ecology's Blog:

"Cleaning up: Fieldwork on Bellingham waterfront's largest cleanup site"



En español

El Departamento de Ecología le invita a comentar sobre un reporte ambiental para el sitio que está contaminado Whatcom Waterway en Bellingham.  

Si le gustaría recibir este documento en español, por favor llame al 509-329-3444 o envíe un correo electrónico a preguntas@ecy.wa.gov.  Traducciones de avisos públicos para los sitios de limpieza de la Bahía de Bellingham se preparan bajo solicitud.

General Cleanup Process

The Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) is Washington’s environmental cleanup law. It provides requirements for contaminated site cleanup and sets standards that protect human health and the environment. Ecology enacts the MTCA and oversees cleanups. The MTCA site cleanup process is completed in steps (see graphic below) over a variable timeline.
Click graphic to enlarge
Click graphic to enlarge

Estimated Site Timeline

  • September 2020:  Complete pre-remedial design data collection for Phase 2 areas
  • 2021-2023:  Complete engineering design and construction permitting for Phase 2 areas
  • 2023:  Begin construction of the Phase 2 areas

Public Participation

Current Whatcom Waterway cleanup site Public Participation Plan: See Pages 28-29 of Consent Decree 

This plan includes information for the public regarding opportunities to get involved in the cleanup process. The outreach activities and mechanisms presented reflect Ecology’s current plans for keeping the public informed and for receiving information and comments from the public.

Cleanup And Testing Of Phase 1 Areas

Whatcom Waterway Phase 1 Construction Areas (click to enlarge)
Whatcom Waterway Phase 1 Construction Areas (click to enlarge)

In July 2015, the Port of Bellingham, with Ecology oversight, began construction activities to address contaminated sediment within Phase 1 areas of the Whatcom Waterway site. The work was completed in 2016 and included:

  • Removing 111,446 cubic yards of contaminated sediment
  • Removing 9,962 tons of soil and 265 tons of creosote-treated timber
  • Removing 5,146 tons of concrete and asphalt rubble (over 98% was reused or recycled)
  • Isolating contaminated sediment with 102,950 cubic yards of clean material
  • Installing 36,600 square feet of sheet pile walls on the north side of the waterway to support the upland and prevent contaminated groundwater from entering the waterway

To ensure the completed cleanup protects human health and the environment in the long term, scientists are testing sediment, crabs and clams for contaminants.

Go to “View Electronic Documents” in the right sidebar to view all monitoring reports.

These Phase 1 Areas Compliance Monitoring Reports linked below and in the Document Repository contain appendices with large volumes of laboratory data.  Please contact the site manager or public involvement coordinator for file download (see right sidebar for contact information).

Site Information

Whatcom Waterway site, Bellingham waterfront, May 2019
Whatcom Waterway site, Bellingham waterfront, May 2019

Site History
The Whatcom Waterway site is more than 200 acres in Bellingham Bay along the downtown Bellingham waterfront. The site includes underwater land and a former industrial waste treatment lagoon.

Contamination at the site is the result of operations at the former Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper plant.

G-P used mercury in its chlor-alkali plant to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide for bleaching and pulping wood fiber. Wastewater containing mercury was discharged directly into Bellingham Bay from 1965 to 1971. G-P installed treatment measures that reduced mercury releases to the bay until 1979. Construction of an industrial waste treatment lagoon (sometimes referred to as an aerated stabilization basin, or ASB), halted discharges of untreated wastewater from the chlor-alkali plant to the bay in 1979. The G-P pulp mill closed in 2001.

Also in 2001, as an interim measure, G-P cleaned up sediment and restored habitat in the log pond portion of the site with Ecology oversight.

In 2005, the Port of Bellingham acquired 137 acres of waterfront property from G-P, including property within the Whatcom Waterway site, accepting lead responsibility for cleaning up the site with Ecology supervision. Other parties involved include the city of Bellingham, state Department of Natural Resources and a private company, Meridian-Pacific LLC.

Contamination
Key contaminants include mercury and phenolic compounds. These contaminants are in concentrations that exceed standards established under the state's cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), and must be addressed.

Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot
The Whatcom Waterway site is one of 12 sites coordinated through the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot.  The Pilot is a bay-wide multi-agency effort to clean up contaminated sediment, control sources of sediment contamination, and restore habitat, with consideration for land and water uses. In 2000, participants in this initiative developed the Bellingham Bay Comprehensive Strategy.

Key Documents

For a list of all Whatcom Waterway site documents, go to “View Electronic Documents” which is also available in the right sidebar.

The Phase 1 Areas Compliance Monitoring Reports linked below contain appendices with large volumes of laboratory data.  Please contact the site manager or public involvement coordinator for file download (see right sidebar for contact information).

Legal 11
Map 1
Document Title Document Date Document Type
Site Map 11/2/1915 Map
Public Information 11
State Environmental Policy Act 5
Technical Reports 55
Document Title Document Date Document Type
Whatcom Waterway - Pre-Remedial Design Investigation Work Plan, Addendum No. 3 - August 2020 8/19/2020 Remedial Investigation Work Plan
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas Year 3 Compliance Monitoring Report - July 2020 7/20/2020 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas Year 1 Compliance Monitoring Report - April 2019 5/13/2019 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas As-Built Report, Appendices D-M - September 2018 9/30/2018 Remedial Action/As-Built Report
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas As-Built Report, Appendix C - September 2018 9/30/2018 Remedial Action/As-Built Report
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas As-Built Report, Appendices A-B - September 2018 9/30/2018 Remedial Action/As-Built Report
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas As-Built Report, Tables, and Figures - September 2018 9/30/2018 Remedial Action/As-Built Report
Sampling and Quality Assurance Project Plan for Compliance Monitoring - Phase 1 6/16/2016 Sampling and Analysis Plan
Whatcom Waterway Final Engineering Design Report Phase 1 Figures 12a-17c 4/10/2015 Engineering Design Report
Whatcom Waterway Final Engineering Design Report Phase 1 Figures 1-11 4/10/2015 Engineering Design Report
Whatcom Waterway Final Engineering Design Report Phase 1 Appendix J-N 4/10/2015 Engineering Design Report
Whatcom Waterway Final Engineering Design Report Phase 1 Appendix F-I 4/10/2015 Engineering Design Report
Whatcom Waterway Final Engineering Design Report Phase 1 Appendix A-E 4/10/2015 Engineering Design Report
Whatcom Waterway Final Engineering Design Report Phase 1 4/10/2015 Engineering Design Report
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas Design Specifications - May 2013 5/22/2013 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas Design Drawings, Part 2 - May 2013 5/20/2013 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Whatcom Waterway - Phase 1 Areas Design Drawings, Part 1 - May 2013 5/20/2013 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Central Waterfront Shorline Design Investigation - October 2012 1/28/2013 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Central Waterfront-Whatcom Waterway Work Plan Addendum - July 2012 1/28/2013 Site Specific Technical Document - other
Central Waterfront-Whatcom Waterway Health & Safety Plan - June 2012 1/28/2013 Health and Safety Plan
Whatcom Waterway preliminary design concept report - August 2012 8/1/2012 Construction Plans and Specifications
Whatcom Waterway pre-remedial design investigation data report - with figures 8/1/2010 Remedial Investigation Report
Supplemental RI/FS -Volume 2, FS, Appendix D 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS -Volume 2, FS, Appendix C 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS -Volume 2, FS, Appendix B 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS-Volume 2, FS, Appendix A 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS -Volume 2, FS 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix A - Pre-remedial design evaluation report (2003) 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix H - Previous PSDDA characterization analyses 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix G - Tables of enrichment ratio summaries 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix F - Colony Wharf sediment sampling report 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix E - Data used to develop site-specific mercury bioaccumulation screening levels 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix D - 2004 ASB sludges & berm sands - Test Results 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix C - 2003 ASB Sampling Data 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix B - Data summaries from 2000 RI/FS 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental RI/FS - Volume 1, RI, Appendix I - Year 5 monitoring report 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Supplemental Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study -Volume 1, RI 10/10/2006 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Interim Action - Log Pond Cleanup, Habitat Restoration Project - Monitoring Report Year 2 12/1/2002 Interim Action Documents
Response to Comments on Draft Supplemental Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement 10/1/2002 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
Supplemental Feasibility Study 3/1/2002 Feasibility Study
Interim Action - Log Pond Cleanup, Habitat Restoration Project - Monitoring Report Year 1 12/1/2001 Interim Action Documents
Whatcom Waterway - Log Pond Cleanup, Habitat Restoration Project, Completion Report, Part 3 - May 2001 5/29/2001 Interim Action Documents
Whatcom Waterway - Log Pond Cleanup, Habitat Restoration Project, Completion Report, Part 2 - May 2001 5/29/2001 Interim Action Documents
Whatcom Waterway - Log Pond Cleanup, Habitat Restoration Project, Completion Report, Part 1 - May 2001 5/29/2001 Interim Action Documents
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 4 Part 4 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 4 Part 3 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 4 Part 2 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 4 Part 1 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 3 Part 4 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 3 Part 3 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 3 Part 2 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 3 Part 1 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 2 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 1 Part 2 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
Whatcom Waterway - 2000 RI/FS Report - Vol. 1 Part 1 7/25/2000 Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study
There may be more documents related to this site. To obtain documents not available electronically, you will need to make a public records request.

Places to see print documents

  • Northwest Regional Office
    15700 Dayton Ave N
    Shoreline, 98133
    Please schedule an appointment to view print documents at this location.
  • Ecology Bellingham Field Office
    913 Squalicum Way, Unit 101
    Bellingham, 98225
    This location may only have print documents available during open comment periods.
  • Bellingham Public Library
    210 Central Ave
    Bellingham, 98225
    This location may only have print documents available during open comment periods.

Contaminants 10

Contaminant Type
Soil
Groundwater
Surface Water
Air
Sediment
Bedrock
Other Contaminant - Base/Neutral/Acid Organics B B B
Halogenated Organics - Halogenated Organics B B B B
Metals - Metals Priority Pollutants B B B B C
Halogenated Organics - Polychlorinated biPhenyls (PCB) B
Non-Halogenated Organics - Petroleum Products-Unspecified B B B
Non-Halogenated Organics - Phenolic Compounds B B B C
Non-Halogenated Organics - Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons B B B
Other Contaminant - Conventional Contaminants, Organic B B B B
Other Contaminant - Conventional Contaminants, Inorganic B B B B
Other Contaminant - Other Deleterious Substances C
S
Suspected
C
Confirmed Above Cleanup Levels
B
Below Cleanup Levels
RA
Remediated-Above
RB
Remediated-Below
R
Remediated
This contaminant list was based on our best information at the time it was entered. It may not reflect current conditions at the site.